To be perfectly honest, I don't see quite your argument :) . Difference of opinion, and what follows is largely MHO.
Ethanol is made out of corn - you are absolutely right - and in that sense, it is a "waste" to create ethanol from a basic grain which could be feeding those in need. However, a far better (IIRC, I could be wrong and only speaking from the point of view of someone exposed to the industry) source of ethanol is sugarcane.
Sugarcane - raw and white sugar - is not a staple; it is not necessary (in most, nay, nearly all cases) as a diet supplement. It is used by "us" as a food additive - in many cases we could do without it.
The reason Brazil uses ethanol, is because of an oversupply of sugar from sugarcane - it's unsaleable on the market for whatever reason (poor prices usually being It) - so they convert it into a saleable, profitable resource.
Australia is an example of a country that could benefit from this. After the worst year on record for sugar production and then the worst year on record for sugar prices, there are huge stockpiles of raw sugar sitting waiting for a buyer. What better way to use this than to turn it into ethanol? To me, that solves the problem of what to do with that sugar, and goes a small way to lowering the usage of oil.
We have - according to many reports - twelve years until the ability to effectively recover oil forces prices through the roof (moreso than now). Twelve years until, essentially, we have to have an alternative. Those of us lucky enough to live in affluent societies rely on energy - and when the oil runs out what are we going to do?
To me, ethanol - if produced appropriately - can go a long way to helping us in the modern day energy crisis, which I suspect is just beginning. It is not the full answer, but for tasks like fuelling of "normal" vehicles, it goes a long way.
For other alternatives, we should be looking more at solar (hot water, heating and electricity), wind (electricity), biodiesel (fuel oil/diesel substitute), to name a few.
Again, my $0.02 ...
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